Cheese rolls
23rd October 2010

Cheese rolls

By Lauren Photography by Adam

Cheese rolls are something of a southern New Zealand delicacy.  Chances are, if you grew up in Canterbury, Otago or Southland, you have spent time rolling these tasty morsels for family dinners, school lunches or a fundraising event.  Many a South Island community cookbook features the local take on this old classic.

I first learnt to make cheese rolls in home economics at Heaton Intermediate in Christchurch.  To be truly authentic, a cheese roll should really be made using packet onion soup mix and cheese, made into a paste with the addition of a little water.  But I just can’t leave well enough alone and have been playing around with flavour combinations, arriving at the blend of sweet, caramelized onions and sharp, strong cheddar.


Makes 12 rolls
  • --
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large brown onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 12 slices grainy bread
  • Melted butter or olive oil to brush bread with
  • 2 cups grated cheese - a good strong, cheddar works well
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • --
  • 1. Heat butter in heavy-based frying pan, add onions and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened.
  • 2. Sprinkle over brown sugar and continue to cook over a low heat until caramelised (around 30mins).
  • 3. While the onions caramelise, roll slices of bread flat with a rolling pin (the flatter you can get it the easier it will be to roll up later). Brush both sides with melted butter or olive oil.
  • 4. Preheat oven to 180ºC on Bake.
  • 5. In a medium sized bowl, combine the onions, grated cheese, cayenne pepper, black pepper and mix with just enough water to make a thick paste.
  • 6. Divide cheese paste among the 12 pieces of bread and spread thinly.
  • 7. Roll each piece of bread up tightly and place onto a lined baking tray, leaving around 5cm (2inches) between each roll.
  • 8. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once, until golden brown.
  • --
  • These can easily be frozen once rolled and then baked at a later date.


  1. machiko

    Love your decadent version of Cheese Rolls! Sadly I haven’t encoutered anyone selling cheese rolls for fundraising recently so I guess it’s time to roll my own! – Your recipe definitely gives me an added incentive.

  2. Bonjour Juliette

    Oh waow! As a “non New Zealander” & a cheese lover (i’m french after all..) i’m very intrigued by those rolls… Must try them someday soon, and show off for sure as i’m pretty sure none of my friends here have ever heard of such things… Looks decadent indeed, and tasty. Yummy, can’t wait!

  3. Lauren

    Thanks Juliette, they are indeed very tasty. Delicious at this time of year with a bowl of hot soup :) Do give them a try!

  4. Dan

    Maybe even add some crumbled crispy bacon! yummmm

  5. Lauren

    Hi Dan, Yes! You could definitely do that – Yum Yum :)

  6. Genevieve

    I just made these, added some asparagus and am now off to the local playcentre Christmas party.

    Will let you know how they go, but I snuck one in before and it was delicious!

  7. Lauren

    I hope they go down well! Asparagus is a lovely addition :)

  8. Dawn

    Sampled them in cafes on our South Island holiday…now they North Island faves for party food.

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